Refugee Routes, italy, 2018

 

In 2016, at the peak of the refugee crises in Europe, I began photographing the routes traveled by thousand of displaced peoples making their way from Southern to Northern Europe. I made a conscious decision at the time not to photograph people. I had a couple of reasons for this. First, as a volunteer in refugee camps I’d been warned that circulated images of a person could jeopardize their asylum application. Second, I didn’t want to contribute to the dissemination of voyueristic images of suffering.

I chose instead to focus my lens on the landscapes people moved through, the items they left behind, and the places where they found refuge. The stories I heard while following these routes became part of the residual landscape. I use these stories as complimentary, though fragmentary, captions, narratives, poems, and songs, which fill in for the ‘missing’ person.

What remains of us, ‘haunting’ a place after we are gone, has always intrigued me. Perhaps I can attribute this interest to my own past: we moved frequently, and oftentimes, quickly, leaving without notice, throwing clothes in suitcases, grabbing a stuffed animal, wearing pajamas.

Something is always left behind. I am looking for this in these landscapes. I am listening for what remains, to the stories still echoing in a place, to the footsteps, to laughter, where it was said, ‘I’m cold. Where are we going?’